From My Bookshelf: Entangled Life

Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change our Minds, and Shape Our Future (by Merlin Sheldrake) (Posted Tuesday, November 3, 2020)

While this book is about fungi and mycorrhizal networks, Sheldrake made a brief discussion about complex adaptive systems.

“…complex, because their behavior is difficult to predict from a knowledge of their constituent parts alone; adaptive, because they self-organize into new forms or behaviors in response to their circumstances. You—like all organisms—are a complex adaptive system. So is the World Wide Web. So are brains, termite colonies, swarming bees, cities, and financial markets—to name a few. Within complex adaptive systems, small changes can bring about large effects that can only be observed in the system as a whole. Rarely can a neat arrow be plotted between cause and effect. Stimuli—which may be unremarkable gestures in themselves—swirl into often surprising responses.”

By the same vein, we can think of literacies as a complex adaptive system. Learning to read and write is much more than just breaking the code. Many factors come into play. Our values, backgrounds, language, linguistic knowledge, metacognitive awareness, engagement, motivation, identity, and intersectionality all contribute to this system that too many people call literacy, but a system that should be thought of as literacies. When literacies are responsive and restorative, many parents, and even readers themselves, are pleasantly surprised at the capabilities of their reading and writing in positive ways.

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